Chris Froome has described the prospect of racing at the 2020 Tour de France and a possible record-equalling fifth victory as “the light at the end of the tunnel” as he continues a long recovery from the horror crash he suffered in June.
The 34-year-old has resumed full training after an operation last month to remove the last of the metalwork inserted following his high-speed crash at the Criterium du Dauphine, where he suffered an open fracture to his femur and broken bones in his sternum and neck.
Froome competed in the short team time trial at the Saitama Tour de France Criterium in Japan in late October, essentially an exhibition event, but admitted he still faces a huge amount of work to recapture the sort of form which might deliver success in July.
Speaking to Team Ineos team-mates Geraint Thomas and Luke Rowe on their Watts Occurring podcast, Froome said. “I got back on the bike (on Monday) officially for the first time since my second operation to remove some of the metalwork, so hopefully there’s no going back now and hopefully everything I do now will be towards the Tour next year.
“We’ll see how it all goes step by step. The first thing is just getting back on the bike and then trying to work on some of the weaknesses. That right leg now hasn’t been working properly for six months, so it’s quite weak and needs a lot of work.”
Froome hopes to return to racing early next season with an eye on challenging at the Tour, where victory would see him match the record held by Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault, Jacques Anquetil and Miguel Indurain.
“I definitely won’t be ready to take on the Giro (d’Italia in May) 100 per cent so I think logically the Tour makes a lot of sense and obviously for my own ambitions, trying to go for number five, the record is a big goal,” Froome added.
“That’s the driving force for me, that’s the light at the end of the tunnel, to get to the Tour in my best shape again. That’s definitely helped in the tough times, the times in the wheelchair, I’ve got to get to that point.
“But having said that, it’s also been quite daunting having that as a goal. Getting back on the bike for the first time was amazing, it was really cool to be out on the road again but it also highlighted to me just how far away from Tour de France-winning shape I am.
“I’ve lost six months and it’s going to take me a good few months to get back there.”